- This is the Wiki site devoted to the book (not the author). Specifically, this is my comment on Cohan's "How Much Freedom of Speech is Too Much?". The Huffington PostThe more I reflect on the ignorant arrogance of most reviewers in newspapers and magazines and most radio and TV talk shows (not to mention learned journals and the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION) the more I feel as I did when I was writing a chapter in MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE, "Agenda-Driven Reviewers: Melville in the Insular New York Newspapers and Magazines vs. Global Loomings from 'Ragtag Bloggers' and Litblogs." Amazon may be behaving badly right now in ways that affect many writers and publishers, but it is, right now, the best democratic forum for reviewing. My goal, the MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY, was to encourage reviewers on Amazon to use their real names and to write serious reviews. My revelation came when I wrote a temperate, honest review of a book by Sally Bushell only to have it vehemently, even viciously, in a very personal attack on my character and even my sanity, rejected by the editor of the Wordsworth journal who had commissioned it. She had wanted a puff piece. I had taken off work on MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY to write the review, the only two weeks I had broken away from the manuscript. Crushed, I remained crushed only a few minutes before I posted the review on Amazon. Dozens or hundreds of people could see the review! Instantly! There is no other place besides Amazon now, to my knowledge, where honest reviewers can say their say. Now, the phoney reviews and the intemperate reviews are a big problem that I can't solve today, but however bad the level of reviewing in Amazon can be, it's usually higher than that in the New York TIMES. We need serious reviewing Internet forums. If you know of any I have not mentioned, please tell me about them!
- Hershel Parker · Top Commenter · Northwestern UniversityAs Dorothy Rabinowitz says in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, Cohan wrote a dishonest book and compounded his folly by embarking on a media blitz in which he has made increasingly reckless false claims about the falsely-accused Duke lacrosse players. He may turn out to have said actionable lies. The WSJ on 11 April had already published a puff piece by David M. Shribman, one of many ignorant incompetent puff pieces that welcomed THE PRICE OF SILENCE. Cohan was the beneficiary of the corruption of reviewing in the mainstream media. I have a vested interest here because the President of Duke University (as he is now), Richard H. Brodhead, lied about me in the NEW YORK TIMES in June 2002, saying that only I in my "black hole" had ever heard of the book Herman Melville finished in 1860 and called POEMS. That is, the Dean of Yale College defamed me as a biographer who merely "surmised" rather than worked from documentary evidence. Of course, everyone had known about POEMS since 1922. I became interested in the non-rape case because I knew of Brodhead's dishonesty in the NEW YORK TIMES, and then became appalled at the behavior of the Gang of 88 at Duke. I have written about this at some length in MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE (published January 2013). Now, I am one of the Amazon reviewers of Cohan's THE PRICE OF SILENCE. I have also made several comments on other reviews of the book. If you go to my (admittedly long) review on Amazon you will find detailed criticism of the incompetence and even viciousness of Cohan's book. I dare to hope that Rabinowitz's review will be a turning point. This may be the time when the amateur reviewers in Amazon push the mainstream media toward honesty. Here is a comment I posted this morning on the comment by carla4515:
What's most encouraging is that the WSJ corrected itself. Someone assigned a review to someone who ought to have been responsible, David M. Shribman, boss at the Pittsburgh POST-GAZETTE. That review, published 11 April 2014, was an incompetent puff piece. So the WALL STREET JOURNAL had to look at its own mistake and decide to protect its new reputation as the most serious national reviewing newspaper (much better now than the NEW YORK TIMES) even if it meant repudiating its own review. Don't look for more reviews by the shamed Shribman in the WSJ! All this speaks very well for the seriousness of the Book Review editor at the WSJ and the integrity of some members of the editorial staff, particularly Rabinowitz herself, who paid attention to what Cohan was doing on his Media Circuit Circus as well as the falsifications in the book. I regard Rabinowitz's review as a turning point in the long-term fate of Cohan's very bad book, and I am even optimistic enough to see it as just maybe a turning point in reviewing, the point where the corrupt mainstream media meets the Great Waters of the Amazon. How can I be so optimistic at almost 80? Well, I'll tell you--I'm optimistic after reading so many intelligent one-star reviews of William D. Cohan's THE PRICE OF SILENCE here on Amazon.
I will keep using the image of GREAT WATERS OF THE AMAZON in celebrating the best hope readers have of fighting the ignorance and incompetence of the mainstream media.